Crohn’s Disease is one of the most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), affecting approximately 1 in 650 people living in the UK.
At the London Gastroenterology Centre, we specialise in providing treatments for a range of digestive health issues, and here we will explain what Crohn’s Disease is, how many people across the UK live with it on a day-to-day business, and how certain diet, lifestyle and treatment changes can improve the condition.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is a long-term medical condition that causes the inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. This can affect any part of the digestive system, but most commonly it will occur either in the ileum (the last section of the small intestine) or the colon.
There are a variety of different symptoms that are caused by Crohn’s Disease. These typically include:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Urgent diarrhoea
- Loss of weight
Sufferers may sometimes experience long periods of time where they only have very mild or no symptoms of Crohn’s. These periods are known medically as ‘remission’. Although this may simulate recovery for a patient, remission can be followed by symptoms flaring up and potentially feeling worse than before.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition, and therefore patients will suffer from the condition throughout their life. However, there are things that can be done to manage the condition and make it easier to live with.
Crohn’s Disease can be treated medically, surgically or using a combination of both of these methods. The method used to treat the condition will depend on its severity, as will the approach taken when it comes to offering medication.
An important concept when treating Crohn’s Disease is the step up treatment vs. the step down treatment. Doctors treating the condition with the step up approach will usually begin treatment with the lowest dose of medication and build up this dose when appropriate, usually beginning with steroids. Others may use this method in reverse, beginning with a high dosage of drugs and gradually lowering it to an appropriate level.
Surgery is often considered as a last resort, and should only realistically be considered if changes to diet and medication have failed to relieve symptoms.
Changes to Diet
In order to make other courses of treatment more effective, those living with Crohn’s Disease can reduce their symptoms by making certain changes to their diet.
Although these changes should only be conducted following a consultation with a professional nutritionist or dietician, they can include cutting out certain foods and increasing your intake of other foods.
Different people will be sensitive to different foods, and may find that certain foods may aggravate their symptoms. These may include:
- Milk and dairy products
- Greasy or spicy foods
- Fibre-rich foods
You should not make any changes to your diet without consulting your physician, who will be able to advise you on the approach you should take when making diet changes to manage the symptoms of Crohn’s.
As well as making certain changes to their diet, Crohn’s Disease sufferers can also alter their lifestyle in order to make their symptoms far more manageable.
One lifestyle change that relates to a change in diet is to eat smaller meals at regular intervals. This comes as less of a shock to your digestive system, and allows your body to more comfortable break down the food. You may find that you are more comfortable having several small meals a day than having 2 to 3 regular or large meals. Drinking plenty of water will also help your digestion and keep you hydrated when you are suffering from diarrhoea.
Smoking increases your risk of developing Crohn’s Disease and can worsen the condition once you have developed it. Smoking can cause more regular relapses, worsen symptoms and increase the need for medication or surgery. By quitting smoking, you can help to improve the health of your digestive tract as well as improving your general health.
Managing stress is also important for Crohn’s Disease sufferers, as this can cause symptoms to become worse or flare up. If you suffer from Crohn’s Disease, learn to manage your stress either by yourself or with the help of your GP.
By making significant lifestyle changes alongside taking medication and changing your diet, you can work to manage your symptoms and increase your chances of going into remission.
We hope that you found this information helpful and, if you believe you may be suffering from Crohn’s Disease or another digestive health issue, the London Gastroenterology Centre can help you. We specialise in providing treatments for a variety of different conditions and can offer you a diagnosis with an endoscopy in London. For more information, contact us today by calling 020 7183 7965.